Melee’s Greatest Moments: Mew2King 6-0’s Leffen

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Mew2King is one of the longest tenured smashers in our game’s history, not just in Melee, but in all games. He has proved to perform at the very top level in Melee, Brawl and Smash 4, becoming the best in the world at the former two on multiple occasions. However, despite all his success, it seemed as if his career was finally coming to a slow end. As 2014 and 2015 rolled on, Mew2King struggled in Smash 4, suffering a character crisis after the nerfs to his previous main, Diddy Kong. While this would be bad enough, the once stable pillar he had in Melee as one of the Five Gods was also beginning to fall, as he found himself slipping further and further down the totem pole. Mew2King had finally begun losing to the up and coming Leffen, who at this point had started to establish himself as quite possibly the best player in the world. This all came to a head in a dominant display at the very first Super Smash Con.

In under 10 minutes, Leffen decimated the once proud slayer of space animals, beating him at his own game badly in one of the only times M2K has lost to a Fox multiple times in a row on Final Destination. The domination continued with another decisive 3-1 victory in Grand Finals, and it seemed Leffen had finally figured Mew2King out. Leffen even made an infamous tweet about the event, claiming that he had trouble not three stocking Mew2King. However, while swung at the king and did not miss, the king wouldn’t stay down for long.

Enter PAX Prime 2015, a tournament once again featuring Leffen and Mew2King. Taking place a mere three weeks after the Smash Con debacle, there was no reason to think anything different would happen here. The fight was over, and Leffen had won, he had figured out the way to finally topple the King of the Mews. There was no going back now, as Leffen would continue his dominance en route to a #1 placing on the year. He had even overcome a longstanding Samus problem, decimating HugS in Winner’s Semis, a player who had defeated him earlier in the year at Press Start. Meanwhile, Mew2King scraped by in a hardfought set against Westballz, before meeting Leffen in Winner’s Finals. What follows, is legendary.

Having cycled through all his characters previously in their last set, Mew2King once again attempted this against Leffen, starting with what many would consider his 3rd best character in Fox. Leffen was well-known at this point for his strength in the Fox ditto, memories of the iconic Paragon set against Armada still ringing throughout the audience. Mew2King, however, wasn’t Armada. He was different, he played different, as his Fox looked calculated and precise, like the robotic Mew2King of old; fitting, considering this was his original main. With a shocking comeback, Mew2King clutched out the final stock and took the first game in stunning fashion. The crowd was in disbelief: could this be it?

No, of course not, Mew2King had no chance here. It was a fluke of the Fox ditto, a famously volatile matchup, and nothing more. Mew2King perhaps thought this as well and, in addition to the closeness of that game, this led to him switching to his more comfortable Sheik, a character he is well-known for today. Another exciting game ensued, as Mew2King once again fought his way back from a deficit, a heartstopping final sequence securing him another comeback and game. D1 and Blur on commentary exuding the exact emotion most of the crowd watching was, both in the venue and those watching on stream. Bewilderment, excitement, and disbelief. The King had…returned?

Game 3, Mew2King remains his patented Sheik, and this game would not need a comeback from him, nor would it be particularly competitive, as Mew2King decimated Leffen with a series of stylish plays reminiscent of him at his prime. A dominant three stock would occur as Leffen merely gave up on his final one, laughing at the result. It seemed unthinkable, but Mew2King had won, he did it! Mew2King was in Grand Finals. However, Leffen was a tough foe, and after a sound beatdown on Westballz in Loser’s Finals, Leffen was ready to take this tourney back for himself, and prove why he was the best in the world.

…Or, I guess not. While Leffen started out hot in Game 1, Mew2King made yet another amazing comeback and early gimp with his Sheik, Leffen once again laughing at the result as Mew2King went up again. Leffen seemed to have almost resigned at this point to many, and Mew2King was only picking up more steam. A switch to Marth came for Game 2, as Mew2King would stay this character for the remainder of the set. From here on out, this was the M2K show, featuring Leffen as the fortunate victim. While both games would indeed be rather close, the consistent, punishing Marth stole all the highlights, with flashy combos and kills galore. Leffen could do nothing but smile and laugh at what he was witnessing throughout the set, perhaps in disbelief, or anger…or fear at what he had awakened?

Nonetheless, with a final forward smash, Mew2King had sealed the 6-0. An iconic moment in the history of M2K’s career, and a huge turning point for it as well. At this time in his life, Mew2King looked as if he was fading from the top echelon of Smash play, that he didn’t have much more to offer. His primary game, Melee, saw him slowly falling, and he just could not find himself in the newest installment. PAX Prime was the jolt of energy he needed, as Mew2King soared to the top once more. The tournament would also be the same for Smash 4, as Mew2King found his new main in Donkey Kong, notably upsetting MVD in another solid set to watch. M2K would continue to say with us on our streams to this day at the highest level of play. What lays beyond 2019 for Mew2King is a mystery, with his continued absence at multiple tournaments throughout the year since GENESIS. One thing’s for certain though: We’re glad you’re still here.

Long live the King.

Friday Surpise: APEX 2016

Hello all! First off, if you would like to support me and what I do, getting THREE ARTICLES A WEEK on Melee-related history and content, I implore you to support my Patreon!

Second off, this is the first in a new series that I could not come up with a good name for, so I’m just going with “Friday Surprise”. In this series, I will randomize a page on either Liquipedia or Smash Wiki, and do an article on whatever shows up (as long as it’s within the topics I would cover). This is the first one, and I hope y’all enjoy it!


 

APEX was once a prestigious tournament series, home to some of the greatest and most storied moments in Smash’s history, across all games. Reaching record attendance numbers and seemingly growing with every year, there appeared to be nothing that could stop it. That is, except APEX itself. The tournament was well-known for its abundance of problems, from both an organizing standpoint and behind the scenes. There had been many cases of difficult problems occuring in years past, from late running pools to fire hazards. However, despite all that, Smashers kept coming, maybe because it was the only place that gave them that true supermajor. That all changed in 2015.

Despite being another incredible tournament spectator-wise, among the greatest of all-time, APEX 2015 matched that with equally historic breakdowns beyond the curtain. The head of the team, Alex Strife, had his own issues finally catch up to him amid some sexually related criminal activity, but yet the tournament continued without him. No, the real kicker was when the original venue itself collapsed. If it weren’t for a freak towel on a fire alarm, many Smashers may have been in that venue as the snow that lay upon it caused it to be increasingly unsafe. In the end, Twitch practically bailed out the Smash community, as the biggest tournament of the year was able to continue the next day in a new, superior venue, albeit with one less day to work. There’s so much more to this story that could be delved into (and will be in the future), but…this tournament isn’t our story today.

Our story is what had to follow.

The following year, APEX returned, sporting a new time of year as to not overlap the returning GENESIS series, and was aiming to be another major, or at least a large regional. However, the tourney would mark a vast departure of talent from the once lofty franchise, and APEX would fade into obscurity, as this would be the last entry it ever saw.

The tournament continued to host a variety of different games, including Melee, Smash Wii U, Smash 64, Street Fighter V and Pokken Tournament. APEX always strived to move beyond its Smash-centered origins, though it never truly worked out. It was held in the same venue that saved the tourney last year, and thus had a remarkable amount of open space to house a plethora of players. In the end, though, the total attendance fell to less than a third of the previous iteration, capping at just over 500 attendees. 159 of those people entered Melee singles, and while there was a vast decrease, a handful of top players made their way to the convention center. Mew2King was the obvious favorite, being the far and away first seed, while The Moon, now known as La Luna, was the expected partner in Grand Finals. Other top contenders included the likes of DJ Nintendo, longtime veteran of the scene, and the New England Peach main Mafia, who was beginning to truly come into his own, recently getting 2nd at the NE Invitational with a double elimination of Slox. There was definitely a battle for 2nd to be had, but 1st was obvious. Time to see the bracket:

Round 1 of pools went off without a hitch, and, aside from an early exit from strong Delaware Fox main Snacks!, very few notable upsets. The only other interesting case would be TheSWOOPER, a fairly new Samus main who was just beginning to find himself, sent longtime Falcon main Dunk to loser’s early, before dropping to loser’s himself against Link main, 20XXTE and Doki Doki Literature Club creator Dan Salvato. Round 2 pools would be where the intriguing matchups began to get underway:

Jflex vs. Stango

Jflex was a strong Tristate Sheik main, who had been around for years formerly as JSex before a relatively recent tag change. He would perform possibly his best year yet in the game, eventually being ranked 95th in the world at the year’s end SSBMRank. This, however, would be a stumbling block for him, as he would lose to the fast rising Lawn Chair, now known by many as Stango. Before Stango was an easy pick for the Top 100, he was just an up and coming Marth main with a stupid tag. Just prior to this tournament, he had risen incredibly, going from #5 in Philadelphia to #1 in just a couple months. He would continue his quick rise to stardom with a stunning upset over the powerful Sheik player. This, however, would not be the end of his run.

G$ vs. Borp

Yes, the legendary techless god himself, Borp, graced us with his presence. He had won his pool with absolute ease, using his mastery of picking up on opponents’ habits and exploiting them through the bracket. This mini-Drephen attempted much the same against the old-school Falco/Marth known as G$, and kept it very close to the end. When the dust settled, however, it was the man who couldn’t edgeguard who felled the man who couldn’t wavedash.

Mafia vs. Stango

This win was certainly the big one for our Philly friend here. Mafia was certainly on the come up, being ranked 91st in the world by the end of 2015, and would later end this year as #50. He has several very impressive wins over this span, but of note would be his consistent dominance over La Luna. At every event they attended, Mafia would always seem to have the edge. This would continue for years to come, where even at Mafia’s lowest of lows, he would still find a way to beat even a La Luna who was on a hot streak. He seemed to be skilled at the Marth MU, but that wouldn’t help him today. Stango would use his rather unorthodox style, aggressively pushing against the Peach, and causing Mafia to break. He would swing his way to a powerful 3-1 victory, notching himself a Winner’s Semis appearance. This was almost certainly Stango’s breakout, and a great way to show himself off to the world.

G$ vs. PudgyPanda (9th)

PudgyPanda had been a slowly rising New Jersey Ice Climbers for about a year now, before finally bursting onto his local scene in the Spring, winning the NJ Arcadian and making his first appearance on their PR at 10th. This would almost certainly be his best win to date, especially at a non-local, as he defeated G$ in an extremely tight contest to get his first regional Top 8.

Minty vs. Jflex (9th)

Minty was a Samus main who had really been making a name for himself in the past several months, defeating Duck in the Samus ditto at the first Smash Con, as well as making Top 64 at GENESIS 3 and Top 8 at Super Nebulous 4. With wins over players like Medz, Slox, and Dizzkidboogie, Minty was one of the first names to truly put Long Island on the map. He would continue this here, with another stellar win over Jflex, 3-1, to move on to Top 8. And overall underwhelming performance for our Sheik friend.

Eventually, after a dominant win for Mafia over TheSWOOPER, and a soulcrushing stomping of Kaeon over Borp, the Top 8 was decided. It’s time to delve in.

Mafia would eventually defeat North Carolina turned Long Island Fox, Kaeon, 3-1, while Minty dispatched the up and coming PudgyPanda in a dominant 3-0, both for 7th place. In winner’s, Mew2King ended Stango’s Cinderella winner’s run in a decisive 3-0 victory.

La Luna vs. DJ Nintendo

On the other side of winner’s, however, was a more interesting matchup. The team usually known as Grab N Go faced off in Winner’s Semis, and the two were known to be frequent practice partners. While La Luna at this point was considered the better play, DJ would often give him trouble in bracket, consistently netting wins on him. In this tournament, however, La Luna won in a fairly commanding 3-1, sending his good friend to the loser’s bracket. He had a date with Mew2King in Winner’s Finals.

In a sad turn of events, Mafia would get his revenge on Stango in loser’s, mirroring Stango’s win with a 3-1 of his own. DJ Nintendo would also defeat Minty 3-1, leaving the expected Top 4 seeds where they were meant to be. Mew2King would also handily defeat La Luna, using both his Sheik and Marth to great effect.

Mafia vs. DJ Nintendo (4th)

In a rather peculiar battle, Mafia went toe-to-toe with the partner of a man he would go on to consistently defeat with DJ Nintendo. He would defeat DJ pretty convincingly in a 3-1, but what was interesting was DJ’s choice of characters. After losing the first two games with his typical main, Fox (including a really bad beatdown Game 2), DJ opted for a character he was recently working on with Pikachu. While back in the day Pikachu was known to be a counterpick against Peach thanks to early kills with up smash, notably by ChuDat, nowadays Peach was considered to strongly to win the matchup. DJ Nintendo, however, brought back the old school tactics well-known at the start of his career to shockingly take the game. He would then switch to his original main, Mario, for Game 4, another shocking choice, and one that would eventually cost him, ending his run at 4th.

La Luna vs. Mafia (3rd)

While in the future we would learn of the devastating counter Mafia was to La Luna, at this point it wasn’t quite as proven. Mafia had a garnered a couple wins over the top level Marth player, at the time ranked 28th in the world, but it wasn’t anything to be considered dominant, especially with how close the sets were. La Luna was likely still the favorite heading into this, considering the higher stakes of this bout in addition to his more prestigious standing. Despite this, however, Mafia won a hardfought four game set, with every one of those four going to the last stock. Mafia completed the upset, and sent La Luna home early at 3rd, kicking this winning streak into high gear.

Mafia would go on to lose to Mew2King in another horrific 3-0 display from the God, giving M2K his first APEX victory. This may come as a shock, with Mew2King having entered Melee, Brawl, Project M and Smash Wii U at every single previous APEX where they existed. He would often suffer early losses, such as Wobbles and OCEAN at APEX 2012 for Melee and Brawl, or fall just short to other amazing players at either 2nd or 3rd place. One notable example of this being this infamous APEX 2013 Brawl Grand Finals against Salem, capping off the most unlikely run in any Smash game ever. Finally, however, he had done it. While it wasn’t as prestigious as the ones before it, it was definitely something the king could check off his bucket list. It was good he did it this time too, as this would be the final entry in the APEX series.

APEX 2016 was a surprisingly well-run event, likely due to the smaller than anticipated size, but it did indeed give some hope that the brand could bring itself back through consistent solid outings. This, however, never came to be, and was likely for the best. APEX was a tarnished brand after all the turbulence of the past, and one halfway decent regional wasn’t going to change what it had become. The ones who worked on the series have moved on, and it’s past for us to do so as well. APEX is a tournament series to be reflected upon and understood, in order to never make the same mistakes it did again. The 2016 iteration was the post-mortem, something to look back on and see what can happen to such a beloved series if steered in the wrong direction.

Let us never have another APEX. Let us tread lightly away from the top…so we never fall back down.

The Man Who Spotdodges: The Career of Drephen

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In Melee’s history, there are few players who truly stand the test of the time. Who have been there since the beginning and continue to crop up in major tournaments to this day. Even rarer are players who continue to play at a top level, as many slowly fade away as competition gets more and more stiff in future years. Textbook examples of that type of player would be Mew2King and ChuDat, well known bastions of longevity. However, among those legends of the game exists another. A Sheik main with a simplistic style that would seem out of place in 2006, let alone 2019. A player that it almost seems baffling to the casual eye made it to the top of our game in the first place, yet has stayed there for almost 15 years. That player is Drephen, one of the all-time greatest to ever touch a Gamecube controller, and a man who truly loves this game we all play.

 

 

 

 

Drephen made his major debut at MELEE-FC in 2004, then the largest tournament of all-time at 98 entrants. He didn’t even have his famous tag yet, opting to go by his real name, Drew Scoles. He ended up at 65th at the event, close to the absolute lowest placing possible, but only continued to climb from there. While he sparsely appeared at the larger tournaments that occured throughout 2004 and 2005, Drephen eventually made himself known at what many may still consider the most stacked Melee tournament of all-time, MELEE-FC3. There, Drephen, now fully engrossed in his identity, garnered 17th, tying in placing with top players from the region such as Vidjogamer and Ignatius, known sometimes as Iggy. He would follow this up with an impressive 5th place MLG Nashville 2005, only placing behind the best in MDVA and tying with the then best in the Midwest, Falcon icon Darkrain. He would then go on to place an extremely impressive 13th at MLG Los Angeles 2005. An often underrated event, MLG LA was the Western Conference Championships for the year, and featured pretty much every top player under the sun, including nearly every single member of the Top 25. Drephen accomplishing a Top 16 at the event was no small feat, outplacing players such as Midwest’s former best Eddie and current best Darkrain, as well as other top level talent during that time like Kei (AKA Takagi, who defeated Drephen at FC3), arguably the best in the Pacific Northwest, and Zulu, one of the best in the South.

Drephen would have underwhelming performances as the 2005 went on, but 2006 began with a bang as our wonderful Sheik main soared to his first big victory with Show Me Your Moves 5. Winning over top players at the time such as Eddie, CunningKitsune, and the fast-rising Tink, Drephen established himself as a member of what would later be known as the “Midwest Five”. Comprised of Drephen, Darkrain, Vidjogamer, Dope and Tink, these five players would define the region for the next several years. Drephen would continue his success with a solid 9th place finish at MELEE-FC6, another record breaking event, before finding himself in the famous 2006 MLG Circuit. After an initial stumble at MLG Chicago, Drephen would fire back with yet another 9th place in Orlando, defeating top MDVA player Wife and fellow Midwest player Tink, whom ended his run at MELEE-FC6, before losing to both Azen and Chillin. Drephen would eventually end the year after strong regional placings solidly within the Top 25 for the game, ranked as 18th in the world by the official Smash Panel Power Rankings at the end of the year (and 21st by Smash History for RetroSSBMRank!). However, despite how good a year this was for him, Drephen’s peak was yet to come.

 

 

 

2007 rolled around, and immediately gave off signs that Drephen was somebody to be feared. Drephen travelled to MDVA and successfully conquered it, winning C3 Smash Battle over the likes of Chillin, ChuDat and Azen, defeating the former and double eliminating the latter. This trend would only continue as Drephen earned his very first major Top 8, garnering 5th place at Pound 2. There, Drephen defeated up and coming players such as Darc and DaShizWiz, in addition top level talent such as Wife and especially Forward, the latter of which recently travelled to the Midwest and dominated it. He would follow this up with a win at EVO North and an insane 4th place finish at MELEE-FC Diamond, his highest major placing of all-time. Another impressive run to 5th at Zero Challenge 3, where Drephen stopped legendary players like The King and Bombsoldier, and things were looking up. This all came to a head with possibly Drephen’s greatest achievement. At Viva La Smashtaclysm, Drephen would earn the biggest win of his career, as he defeated the best in the world at the time, Mew2King, to ensure another 5th place performance. Mew2King and Drephen were known to often beef with each other on Smashboards, the primary form of communication for smashers back in the day. M2K would often accuse Drephen of having little to no skill, relying on cheap tactics and chaingrabbing to get the wins he earned in tournament. In a way, Drephen defeating Mew2King in tournament was karmic justice, punishment for doubting Drephen’s expertise at the game. Drephen would eventually end the year as a comfortable Top 10 player in the world, his highest ranking to date.

Screenshot 2019-07-10 at 8.39.38 AM

Upon mentioning the arguments with Mew2King, I feel this would be a good time to go over what makes Drephen so special, and why he is such an interesting player to watch, even to this day. Drephen, in a way, encapsulates what made the old-school crop of players so good at the game. Sure, they didn’t quite have the technical skill that many players nowadays possess, and could easily be overwhelmed by said skill if they played in today’s meta. However, in lieu of this, they possessed an uncanny ability to get inside the opposing player’s head, and understand what they were thinking. At the highest level of play back then, this was shown no better than by the mythical Azen, who used his ability to read opponents and understand their habits to make devastating, hard calls and end stocks when one would least expect it. Drephen is of the same general camp, encorporating his own style of getting into the opponent’s head. He will read your patterns and do the bare minimum to expose them, using relatively simple options to poke at you, as well as timing mixups to throw off your innate rhythm. This often annoys players, and causes them to lose focus and become even more predictable and open to attack, allowing Drephen to seize victory. This is obviously helped by Drephen’s character choice of Sheik, a main players often consider quite simple, with easy to execute combos as well as getting quite a bit off of grabbing, something that is also quite trivial to perform. Drephen would also utilize Sheik’s amazing defensive tools, such as her spotdodge, crouch cancel, or tech roll, all of which are some of the best in the game compared to other characters thanks to her other options that support these choices. Drephen gets into your head, and stays there, making you think he’s just lucky or using cheap tactics to get ahead. The reality is…he’s just that much smarter than you.

Drephen would follow his 2007 with an arguably underwhelming 9th place at Pound 3, before fading from the public after Brawl’s release. He would show up to roughly one large tournament a year in the years before EVO 2013, a time often called the “Dark Ages” of Melee, and perform decently but never score that groundbreaking win. He was even losing to other old-school Midwest players, such as Trail or CunningKitsune. It seemed as if Melee had finally passed him by…

 

 

 

 

 

That was, until 2014, where Drephen began to come alive again. A solid showing at Super SWEET, including a win over Duck, to earn 9th place, as well as a 33rd placing at The Big House 4 with wins over players like Darkatma and NMW showed that Drephen still had some gas left in the tank. Another Top 48 showing at a supermajor with APEX 2015 showed this was near fluke, as he defeated Tai and Gahtzu, in addition to his infamous chaingrabbing of Android, before losing in a nailbiter to MacD, who was quickly becoming a top end player himself. 2015 would continue at a similar pace for Drephen, just missing the Top 100 ranking by the end of the year. 2016, however, would be a different case.

Drephen started the year off strong with his first big win since his return, taking home gold at SWEET XXI over Prince Abu. As the Spring rolled around, Drephen would begin to tally up his first top level wins in many years, defeating HugS at OUTFOXX’D and Dizzkidboogie at Pound 2016. As the year drew on, Drephen would also slowly bolster his regional prowess, beginning to take sets o;ff of the best in the region at the time, like the nearly untouchable Kels, as well as consistently beat other strong Top 100 level talent like ESAM. Probably the most well-known part of Drephen’s late year run would be his extremely close set against easy Top 10 candidate SFAT at The Big House 6, proving Drephen could still contend with the highest echelon of play. By it’s end, Drephen would be ranked as the 75th best player in the world, his first national ranking since 2008.

 

 

2017 would prove no worse, as Drephen gained another win over HugS early in the year at Full Bloom 3, in addition to a multitude of wins on Duck, proving his expertise at the Samus matchup. He would continue to place consistently, most notably an impressive 3rd place in the Gods & Gatekeepers singles bracket, and earn a ranking of 68th in the world by the end. 2018, however, would be when Drephen truly began to return to form.

 

It would start with a modest 49th at GENESIS 5, where he defeated fellow Top 100 player Ralph, in addition to Top 60 ranked Arizona Fox main Medz. It would then continue with an astonishing 4th place at large regional tournament, The Gang Hosts a Melee Tournament. There, Drephen would defeat Top 50 level Fox mains in Slox and KJH, the latter having given Drephen trouble for years now. At Smashadelphia, Drephen would take both Wizzrobe, a Top 10 player, and lloD, a Top 30 ranked player, to the brink, in addition to double eliminating Junebug, Project M legend and a fastly rising Melee Sheik main. Consistent wins over Top 50 player Ginger also came, with Drephen going undefeated against the Falco all year. However, despite incredible success at the regional level, Drephen just couldn’t seem to put it together at the majors without a favorable bracket, suffering poor losses to players like Zuppy and Flamin Roy. Drephen would be 60th in the world by the end of the year, but it seemed his ceiling had finally been reached.

But then…he returned. When all seemed lost, the Drephen we all know and love came back to us as he spotdodged and grabbed his way to an absolutely shocking 9th place at supermajor Smash N Splash 5. This tournament was to award a spot at Smash Summit 8 to the highest placing non-invited player. There were many in talks of potentially earning the spot, but there is almost no way anybody expected Drephen to earn that right. While Drephen had been improving, it seemed highly unlikely that he could return to his days of old and outlast all the new, hungry and far superior players in today’s age. Drephen could easily even be written off after an early loss to Techboy, a young Ice Climbers main who more focuses on Project M than Melee. And yet, Drephen perservered. Defeating Rik, Morsecode762, TheSWOOPER, n0ne and Westballz, Drephen found his way to an astonishing 9th place at the event, his best supermajor placing since Pound 3, 11 years prior. He then went on to win the tiebreaker, defeating both KJH and Shroomed in thrilling contests to earn his place in one of Melee’s most prestigious events. His final stock against Shroomed is almost emblematic of what Drephen’s all about: devastating Sheik play, hard reads, and claiming victory where it didn’t seem to exist. Drephen had the Summit spot, and would go to the gathering of Melee’s elite.

Drephen did not perform well at Smash Summit 8, but that is not the point of this article. The point of this article is to show Drephen’s long, illustrious career. Through thick and thin, through all of Melee’s eras, Drephen has been there. Seemingly never changing, but yet always improving, his love of the game is forever, as is his impressive gameplay. Anybody can watch Drephen, and understand him, emulate him, and learn to love Melee just as much as he does. Drephen proves that you don’t need fast fingers to break into this game, to be truly great. All you need is love, and a gameplan. Drephen is a player who goes down in the history books as likely the greatest Midwest player of all-time, and showcases the very essence of what Melee’s about. He, like Melee, is forever.

Keep spotdodging, you crazy man. Keep spotdoding.

Melee’s Greatest Upsets: Kage defeats Mango

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Unstoppable. If there was one word I had to use to describe Mango’s run through 2008 and 2009, it would be that. The SoCal Puff main, with a hint of Falco, seemingly came out of nowhere to blaze a path that had barely been seen before. Sure, Ken was dominant, but he never did it with…such style. Such flash. With iconic moments at seemingly every tournament he went to, Mango was a walking highlight reel. An unprecedented loser’s run to win Pound 3. Dominant and flashy local showings through the following year, never dropping a serious set. This includes a famous JV4 stock on fellow Top 10 Player, Zhu…using his Captain Falcon, a character Mango did not typically use and one Zhu tended to dominate. Mango was unbelievable as he rested and spiked his way through the year of 2009 as well.

A beatdown of the East Coast at Revival of Melee firmly cemented Mango as the best in the world, above any doubt or regional bias people might’ve had. He was so on top, Mango had an entire tournament named after him: Mango Juice, which he won as well with ease. He even defeated the legendary SilentSpectre using the man’s own character against him. Even after a seismic run from Armada at GENESIS in July, Mango was still able to rally, and bring us one of the most iconic moments in the history of our game as he was able to send Europe packing.

With Brawl reaching heights far beyond what Melee had to offer, and Mango’s continued dominance of the field, it seemed as if Mango’s reign would last until Melee’s flame burned out, and he would go down as our final, lasting champion…

Enter: The Warrior.

 

When it comes to Ganondorf, the villain of the iconic Legend of Zelda franchise, there have been some top tier competitors in the past. Eddie of course comes to mind, a Top 10 level player in 2003, who continued to have decent performances all the way up to 2007. However, after him, there hadn’t been many to truly break into that tier. Florida had a startling amount of talent with the warlock, with Tipman being an early progenitor of the character. Linguini would come after, and begin to show success in 2008, notably making 17th at GENESIS. An unexpected place for the blackhearted villain to find love would almost certainly have been where our hero of today hails from: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Despite being the 2nd largest country in the world, as well as being adjacent to the most active scene for Melee, the United States, Canada had barely seen action on the grand stage. The few exceptions would be the likes of Mike and the Punch Crew, more known for their videos and entertainment value than actual skill (though MikeMonkey did show some prowess), and The King, an aggressive Jigglypuff main who ironically inspired Mango to pick up the character. Other than those rare caveats, Canada had seen practically no action prior to Brawl’s release.

This would, of course, change as 2008 rolled around, with players such as RaynEX beginning to travel stateside. While he performed admirably, there was still a lot to be desired from the land up north. That would all change in 2009, and from an unlikely source.

Kage, while a potent force locally, was not considered one of the absolute top players in Canada, or even Montreal. He consistently was seen losing locals to Vwins, a strong Peach player who would come to fame after his 13th place showing at GENESIS, defeating Lucky. While obviously a respectable loss, this dominant record Vwins had over our warrior was a clear sign that he just wasn’t up to snuff. He couldn’t hang with the top of the business, and there was no way he could score a win on a Top 10 player, let alone the almost omnipotent Mango.

Kage, however, would begin to prove others wrong, starting with Revival of Melee. While Mango easily plowed his way through the competition, Kage had an often underrated run to 5th place, defeating legend after legend in his wake. First defeating solid Midwest Falcon Jiano, Kage would then go on to make his way through quickly rising Jman, who was hot off his win on Mew2King in December of last year, and two forefathers of the game in KoreanDJ and Azen. He would lose to DaShizWiz, a player on the cusp of Top 5 level at the time, and then in a nailbiter to PC Chris, another legend. Perhaps it was just inexperience in such a strange matchup like Ganondorf, but Kage proved he could beat multiple top level threats all in a row. Still though, legends who are falling out of the game, and living legends in their prime are entirely separate matters.

After a ho-hum GENESIS run to 17th place, the same as fellow Ganon Linguini, it seemed as if Kage had finally settled into a suitable tier for himself. While yes, he was very impressive, he wasn’t quite at that Top 10 level, and a far cry from the best of the best. That’s when the sequel to his greatest run yet began: Revival of Melee 2. Here, Kage would prove why his name deserved to be etched into history.

 

After first defeating Linguini in a Ganon ditto, in a way establishing himself as the best Ganondorf main in the world, Kage eventually found himself against Mango. While many would have predicted an easy win for the best in the world, the Warrior had other ideas. With two swift games that looked almost too easy for the French Canadian, Kage defeated Mango’s Falco and Captain Falcon to progress in the bracket. While many would dismiss this as a merely Mango not trying, context has to be taken into account. Mango’s Falco was in some ways his best character at the time, and Kage was known to be far weaker against the character than his contemporaries, notably losing 3 times to up and comer PPMD at Tipped Off 4. Mango was also known to use these characters often in earlier periods of the bracket, and sometimes even later on to great effect. His Falco had defeated Mew2King at the previous Revival of Melee, and his Captain Falcon had the aforementioned victories over both Zhu and SilentSpectre. While it was undoubtedly an impeded Mango, make no mistake, Kage’s decisive victory here was still insanely impressive.

Still though, nobody thought this victory would last too long. Mango would ride his way through loser’s and easily win the tournament, with nobody considered on his level, such as Armada or Mew2King, attending the tournament. This would seem to hold true to start, as Mango easily dispatched of Lucky, Cactuar and Jman with the same characters Kage vanquished in winner’s, seeming to hardly try as he ventured to an inevitable win. Kage, however, had lost to rising Jigglypuff main Hungrybox in winner’s, before scraping by another Puff in Darc to meet back with the reigning champion of Melee in Loser’s Semis. After another win over Mango’s Falco in Game 1, it was time. Mango had to take the weights off.

 

Mango wasn’t messing around anymore, as he brought out the puffball everybody associated with a “tryhard” version of him: him at his very best. Game 2 began, and immediately the skillgap seemed apparent. Mango toyed with Kage around Dreamland, known affectionately as “MangoLand” by some at the time, en route to a momentum halting 3 stock on the Warrior. It seemed fruitless, a mere dream that Mango could ever be eliminated from a tournament. Sure, he had a bit of a scare when he was barely trying, but when Mango wanted to, he could beat you whenever he chose.

The 23-year old Ganon main didn’t take too long as he made his way to Battlefield for Game 3. A perfect setting for a true Warrior, as Kage might say. It started much the same as Game 1, with Mango taking the first stock, though Kage proved to put up much more of a fight than before. Perhaps after over 6 prior games against top level Puffs in the tournament, he was finally getting accustomed to how the character worked. A smaller stage than the gigantic Dreamland properly didn’t hurt much, either, nor did Ganondorfs ridiculous kill potential when the size of the stage is reduced. Slowly but surely, the tide started to turn, until a fateful up smash connected, killing Jigglypuff at under 50%.

The battle was even. A fair fight, something all honorable Warriors strive for.

A flurry of hard hits slammed against the soft exterior of Mango’s character, as the percent quickly racked up. 10, 20, 50, 70, it just didn’t stop. The nerves had to be piling on for the once unmovable, arrogant kid, as the unflappable might of THE WARRIOR pounded upon him. Well, actually, Mango was the one who pounded, albeit right into a ferocious Ganondorf forward air that sent him off the stage and to his last stock. Mango felt the pressure, and knew he had to go for something, anything. He saw Kage roll out of the shield, and memories flashed back to that legendary moment against Armada. He went for explosive rest, a move that would surely turn the tide in his favor…

And he missed.

It was over, the final barrier broken. Mango would take this stock and bring Kage to his last, but most knew it was over at this point. Almost immediately, Kage hit a one-two punch of aerials to send Mango out of the stage and out of the tournament. Mango had finally been defeated. It wasn’t a fluke, there were no excuses, Mango had fallen. The culprit? One Warrior. The Warrior. Kage the Warrior.

Kage would then, in a moment of pure joy, run up to the mic and let out his immortal words: “I just beat Mango, where you at?!”

Kage would go on to lose his next set in decisive fashion to PPMD, as Hungrybox would win Grand Finals and garner his very first major victory. Kage would continue his strong performances, but never again reach these heights. Still though, this accomplishment alone gives the undisputed honor of being the greatest Ganondorf main to ever touch Super Smash Brothers Melee.

Mango wouldn’t be impeded by this loss for long, with following wins at both Winterfest and Pound 4, before his Scorpion Master phase began in 2010. For many years, this would be considered possibly the greatest upset in the history of the game, and for good reason.

Sometimes, you can’t doubt a Warrior.

 

A 10+ Year Journey: The Rise of Axe

If you want to support me and help me get not only these articles, but maybe things beyond them out at a suitable time, make sure to pledge to me on my Patreon! I plan to really start this stuff up very soon, so I hope you enjoy it!


 

July 12th, 2009: GENESIS 1, Singles Bracket, Winner’s Round 2.

The young Arizona native sits down, about to enter the highest stakes match of his entire career. Having made his way through Alex19 and Everlasting Yay in pools, and defeating PockyD, Axe comes face to face with one of the greatest players in the world. Jman, a Tristate Fox main, had been making a name for himself in the past year. Taking sets off of Mango, Mew2King and ChuDat, in addition to winning the first APEX, has cemented Jman as a Top 10 player in the world. There is a strong possibility, especially during this period in Smash history, that he had no idea who this Pikachu main was.

He did, however, have to realize the giant crowd behind him.

AZ was here for their boy, including one of the best in the region, Taj. Known for his Mewtwo at the time, Taj established that strong players of unconventional characters can come from the region down south. Another Pikachu by the name of PikaChad had also been making the rounds, proving that this character does have the potential to score some wins.

Still though, a win of this magnitude had never been seen from this yellow rat, not since the days of Rori back in 2003 and 2004, long before a standardized ruleset was in place. It would be tough, perhaps even impossible, for Axe to come out victorious.


 

June 16th, 2019: Smash Summit 8, Singles Bracket, Grand Finals.

The experienced Arizona native sits down, decked out in his Pikachu hat and Tempo Storm jersey. He has risen to fight in what was more than likely the highest stakes match of his entire career. Surging through the bracket, Axe defeated Moky, S2J, Zain, Mango, Wizzrobe and Leffen to make it to the winner’s side of Grand Finals at a major for the first time in his life. Across from him is a player he had already vanquished: Wizzrobe.

Wizzy had just done the unthinkable a mere two weeks prior, winning a major as Captain Falcon for this first time since Isai in 2005. With his placing today, he was in strong contention to be the best player in the world, a feat few saw coming. Axe, however, had been lanquishing in the 6-10 range his near entire career, with consistent but not insane performances. That is, until 2019, where he has since reached Grand Finals of majors 3 times, whilst never doing it beforehand.

There was no crowd as the two sat in the empty room, but everybody who was watching could feel it: This was Axe’s time. As good friend and Yoshi main Vectorman, along with AZ Marth main and additional good friend Tai, sat downstairs watching on monitors, the two began.


 

 

 

 

Axe started his journey in late 2006, attending local school tournaments and doing decently. There, he would meet a friend that has stuck with him to this day in Vectorman, as the two began to climb to the top of their school. Eventually, they went out to more regional events, and quickly learned of their place in the scene. Throughout 2007, the two would play in various Arizona tournaments that featured the heavy hitters of the time: Forward, Wobbles and Taj. While Vectorman would initially do merely okay, Axe began to break out as a player with true potential. By the end of the year, Axe would be ranked 7th in the state. By the end of 2008, heading into 2009, he was even stronger. It was time for his first major: GENESIS.


 

An intense first game erupts against Jman, as the two trade stocks back and forth. Jman’s solid fundamentals with a markedly better character like Fox easily shines through, both literally and figuratively. While his matchup inexperience is evident, Jman can clearly be seen as the better of the two players. Consistent grabs and combos rack up percent quickly, while up airs and up smashes easily take Pikachu’s stocks. However, Axe had some tricks up his sleeves, able to end Jman’s stocks much quicker than the other way around. With multiple tail spikes in use of Pikachu’s up air offstage, Fox can find himself hurdling towards the abyss far earlier than he would like. Axe brought this out twice in the first game, before mounting a large comeback on the last stock, utilizing uncharacteristically patient play and ledge camping before he found an opening. A solid combo that wouldn’t be out of place in the modern game commences, and Axe seals Game 1. The Arizona crowd explodes, one person shaking Axe in excitement, as they prepare for the next game. It wasn’t over yet, and Axe knew it.


 

As 2010 rolled around, Axe would eventually find himself at #2 in Arizona, above many of the idols he aspired to be like, such as the aforementioned Taj. During this time, he really started to establish as a top of the line player, showing consistent top results at majors and regionals alike. This would all come to a head at APEX 2010, where he garnered 5th place, defeating top players like DaShizWiz along the way and only losing to Armada twice, nearly defeating him in one of the encounters. By the end of the year, Axe was firmly a Top 15 player, a place he would never dip below for the rest of his career.

 

 

Axe would continue his astounding performances into the following years, such as his 4th at Pound V in early 2011, that would quickly be followed by his first God level win: A win over Mew2King in winner’s at Zenith 2011. While he would eventually lose to M2K in the runback in Loser’s Finals, this was a statement: Axe was no mere gimmick, and could hang with the best of them. Axe’s 2012 would be rather quiet, save for an inspiring loser’s run to 3rd place at Kings of Cali, where he took out Lucky, Fiction, SFAT, S2J, PewPewU and Shroomed before taking eventual winner PPMD to the limit. By the end of the next year, 2013, Axe would be #1 in Arizona with Wobbles both retiring and going back to Texas. He has never been below this spot since.


 

 

Grand Finals begins, and Axe and Wizzrobe immediately get to work. Intense games back and forth as the first set roars through, both displaying why they are two of the five best players in the world. While the games are close, Wizzrobe seems to be edging out Axe this time, as opposed to their set earlier in bracket. Eventually, with a comeback in Game 4, Wizzrobe resets the bracket. It’s a wakeup call for Axe, as he needs to refocus and try his hardest. Wizzrobe was a tough opponent, but was certainly somebody he had the ability to beat. It all came down to this.


 

Destruction. Complete and utter destruction.

Game 2 between Jman and Axe was a massive shock to the system for the Arizonian who must’ve been riding high. While Jman might’ve lacked experience in this particular scenario, he was still one of the best in the world, and Axe was just a newcomer looking to make his name. After a hot start from the Pokemon on his home turf of Stadium, Jman fired up and never looked back. As an onlooker puts aptly, in reference to another classic gaming moment, “Rare footage of Jman actually angry!” Jman was relentless with his nairs, his lasers, and early up throw kills, in addition to a devastating pit situation for our hero. A dominating three stock occurs, and all hope seemed lost. Jman had figured out this gimmick, and it was time to put the final nail in the coffin. Game 3 began. It all came down to this.


 

2014 would be Axe’s best year yet, as his continued improvement showed no signs of slowing. MLG Anaheim 2014 was a breakout from Axe into a definitive Top 10 standing, with his wins over Remen, S0ft, Colbol and Mew2King in pools, in addition to once again taking PPMD ever so close. In the final bracket, he vanquished Lucky and longstanding demon Hungrybox for what would be his first and only time yet en route to a 5th place finish. EVO 2014 would be much the same, as he defeated ChuDat, Plup, and put on an iconic show against Silent Wolf before losing in nailbiters to both Mango and Armada, the best two players in the world. Despite some small falters later in the year, he would end it as the 7th best in the world, his first Top 10 ranking. For the past five years, he has never dipped below 10th in the world.

With continued top level performances as the years went on at tournaments such as Sandstorm in 2015 with wins on both Mango and Leffen, or Smash Rivalries in 2017 over Mango and Mew2King, Axe has been a consistent force in Melee for the past decade. But, it never looked like he could win the big one. Scary matchups such as Ice Climbers or Jigglypuff, where he would sometimes feel cornered and be forced to use characters such as Falco, Fox, Marth or even Young Link, would often show up. These would often end poorly for our Pokemon master, and keep him from accomplishing his ultimate goal. Perhaps it just…wasn’t possible.


 

It just wasn’t possible. Jman continued to beat down on Axe for Game 3, easily taking the first stock as he looked to have this in the bag. When Axe attempted to fire back, he just couldn’t seem to end the stock as Jman continued to crawl back and rack up the percent.

Hope was fading….until the backthrow.

A quick and early stock brought the crowd alive once more, as screams of “He’s nervous!” ring out from behind the two players. Axe played with a new sense of vigor as he began to open up a lead, and suddenly Jman was on the backfoot. With nerves pounding, and every move catching everybody’s breath, Axe finally performed another backthrow. The ensuing sequence wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. A point-blank thunder jolt, a tail spike that went in the wrong direction, followed by a nervous up b back on stage from Axe…and a nervous up b under the stage from Jman. It was over. Axe had won.

Axe leaped into the air as a person in the crowd rose his arm. Some chants of “Axe!” could be vaguely heard, but it was more indecipherable screams of joy from this travelling hometown crowd. Taj, a hero and mentor to Axe, rose him above his head, as he crowdsurfed for just a moment before coming back down. It had to be the height of his career.

Axe would then go on to lose to two Floridians: Raistlin, a Jigglypuff, and Linguini, one of the all-time great Ganondorf players. He would finish 33rd at the event, tying PikaChad for the highest placing Pikachu. For the next 7 years, Axe would be the highest placing Pikachu at every major he went to, and would continue to be after one freak performance in 2016 to this day.


 

It couldn’t be possible, it just couldn’t. A Pikachu winning a major? That’s nonsense! Pikachu was not a top tier character, confidently considered roughly 9th best in the game by many. Sure, Axe was amazing, but there is no way he could ever reach the top while championing such a lower character…could he?

With every game, it seemed more doable. With every stock, more realistic. With every victory screen, the truth entered our brains. Axe was going to win this. He was going to win Smash Summit 8.

An awe-inspiring performance at GENESIS 6, where Axe scratched and clawed his way through tight sets against Legend, iBDW, S2J, Kalamazhu, Rishi, Zain, Ginger, PewPewU, aMSa, Plup and Hungrybox towards a 2nd place finish, with nearly all of these sets going to last game.

A dizzying display at GOML 2019, defeating S2J, Zain, SFAT, Wizzrobe and Leffen before falling just short to a hungry Mango, proving his GENESIS performance was no fluke, and that he truly has ascended to a higher level.

And now…this run. It all came down…to this.

It looked beautiful, absolutely perfect. On Final Destination, at over 150%, Axe delivered a near picture-perfect 0 to death on Wizzrobe. Using the chaingrab to high percents masterfully after an open up with up air, he sent Wizzrobe offstage, and used perfectly timed tail spike and a divine angle to the ledge with his recovery to snuff Wizzy out and send him to the bottom of the stage. At 169%, Axe had done it. You could place it in one of those art museum picture frames used in The Axe Effect combo video made all those years ago. It was a moment where time froze, and everything…seemed right.


 

Axe jumped up in joy, as Wizzrobe, in a rare display of outward emotion, hugged Axe in recognition of his unprecedented feat. However, shortly after his explosion of utter satisfaction…Axe sat down.

He reflected.

He recomposed.

And he internalized his accomplishment.

Before he could do anything else, a familiar face comes in: Vectorman. The longtime friend who has been with him from the beginning hugs Axe, as they both begin tearing up. Another decade long friend in Tai begins crying over the microphone, as eventually, Axe makes his way downstairs to the people awaiting him.

Chants of “AZ!” and “Pikachu!” ring out as Axe embraces Tai, before a tearful victory speech commences, and Axe is handed his trophy. He had finally done it. For himself, for his friends, for his state, and for his character. Axe had won a major.


 

Axe is a player that has shaped Melee’s history in so many ways, I don’t know how to properly put it into words. He took this…looked down on character, somebody nobody gave a shot to truly accomplish great things, and continuously pushed it to the absolute limits to bring out his best. One of the most technical players in the game, Axe not only shows what Pikachu is capable of, but what Melee is capable of too. A truly beautiful game that anybody can play, and anybody can get good at, with enough time, effort, and perserverence.

Axe was just a kid from Arizona, and with the support of everybody that gave it to him, be it his friends like Vectorman and Tai, his mentors like Taj and Wobbles, or even the fans around the world, he was able to achieve his dream. Of course, Axe himself is no slouch either, being one of the nicest and most caring individuals in the scene. He is somebody any of us should strive to be: A true hero.

Long Live Axe. Long Live Melee.

Image result for Axe smash

All-Time Melee Top 100: One Year Later

     On March 16th, 2018, the final article of the Top 100 Melee Players of All-Time was released. By all accounts, it meant a lot to see overwhelmingly positive feedback and legitimacy to a project I had considered pursuing for years. For the most part, I’m still okay with how the list turned out. However, time rolls on, and Melee keeps going.

     In just a year, more majors continue to happen, and legacies have shifted for several players, with many of them having a greater impact on the game than before. I thought it’d be nice to catch up on the last year of Melee and see how it’s affected the all-time structure of the game. Without further ado, I am Pikachu942, and let’s get to it!

In total, 13 majors have happened in the intervening time, with 6 being supermajors. These tournaments, in order, were:

  • EGLX 2018
  • Full Bloom 4
  • Smash Summit 6
  • Get On My Level 2018
  • Smash ‘n’ Splash 4
  • CEO 2018
  • Low Tier City 6
  • EVO 2018
  • Super Smash Con 2018
  • Shine 2018
  • The Big House 8
  • Smash Summit 7
  • GENESIS 6.

     These tourneys were the most important of the year by the metrics set for the original All-Time Top 100, which included having at least three Top 5 level players in attendance, six Top 10 level players in attendance (with at least one Top 5 level player in attendance), or being otherwise extremely historically significant while nearly meeting this criteria. Supermajors are very similar, though with more strict criteria, needing the player considered the best in the world along with at least four other contenders for the Top 5, or nearly meeting this while being historically significant or with a certain level of prestige.

     Other notable tournaments include Noods Noods Noods: Oakland Edition, Flatiron 3, GT-X 2018, The Mango: Homecoming and Don’t Park on the Grass 2018. There were also a plethora of notable regional tournaments that occurred, but they are far too numerous and not as significant or impactful on an all-time standing, so I will not be covering them here. The most notable of them would be Heir 5, the largest European tournament of the year, though it doesn’t quite meet the metrics with only one “god” level player in attendance.

     Of these tournaments, several players have achieved a boost in their all-time standing with strong Top 8 performances. These players were:

  • Hungrybox: 13 Top 8’s, 13 Top 4’s, 10 Grand Finals, 8 Major wins and 3 Supermajor wins
  • Armada: 6 Top 8’s, 6 Top 4’s, 4 Grand Finals, 2 Major wins and 1 Supermajor win
  • Plup: 8 Top 8’s, 7 Top 4’s, 5 Grand Finals, 1 Major win and 1 Supermajor win
  • Leffen: 8 Top 8’s, 6 Top 4’s, 3 Grand Finals, 1 Major win and 1 Supermajor win
  • Mew2King: 6 Top 8’s, 5 Top 4’s, 2 Grand Finals, 1 Major win and 1 Supermajor win
  • Zain: 7 Top 8’s, 3 Top 4’s, 1 Grand Finals and 1 Major win
  • Mango: 10 Top 8’s, 4 Top 4’s and 1 Grand Finals
  • Axe: 5 Top 8’s, 2 Top 4’s and 1 Grand Finals
  • Wizzrobe: 5 Top 8’s and 4 Top 4’s
  • aMSa: 7 Top 8’s and 2 Top 4’s
  • PewPewU: 3 Top 8’s and 1 Top 4
  • ARMY: 2 Top 8’s and 1 Top 4
  • S2J: 5 Top 8’s
  • SFAT: 5 Top 8’s
  • n0ne: 3 Top 8’s
  • Lucky: 3 Top 8’s
  • Swedish Delight: 2 Top 8’s
  • AbsentPage: 2 Top 8’s
  • Rishi: 2 Top 8’s
  • Crush: 1 Top 8
  • Bananas: 1 Top 8
  • lloD: 1 Top 8
  • HugS: 1 Top 8
  • Gahtzu: 1 Top 8
  • Shroomed: 1 Top 8
  • Ryan Ford: 1 Top 8
  • Ginger: 1 Top 8

     A total of 27 Players achieved at least one major Top 8, with 12 achieving a Top 4 standing, making it to Grand Finals and 6 different players winning at a major tournament. Notably, this is the most amount of players to win a major since 2007. Interestingly, this was also the first year since 2007 that Mango did not win a major, and the first year since 2007 that Mew2King has won a supermajor.

     As you can see, this data favors Hungrybox, who has now surpassed Mango and Armada for most ever major wins at 27, four more than 2nd place, Mango, who stays at 23, with Armada just behind at 21. With GENESIS 6, Hungrybox also ties Mango’s supermajor wins at 9 a piece, though Armada remains ahead with a monstrous 11 supermajor victories.

     In terms of Top 8 appearances, Hungrybox is now 2nd all-time in this regard with 80, just behind Mew2King, who boasts 86 different Top 8 placings. M2K has also attended a staggering 98 different majors in his career, so look forward to the rest of the year, when he will likely be the first to cross the triple digit barrier in major attendance.

     However, sheer quantity isn’t the whole story. Some people, such as Armada, attended less events than Hungrybox, who went to every single major of the year. If you look at the win percent at majors, how many times the person has outright won a major when they attended, Hungrybox with this past year reached a strong 33.33%, or 1/3, throughout his entire career.

     This has allowed him to pass the likes of Mango, who faltered this year to a 28.05% win rate, barely above PPMD’s flat 28%, and Ken’s 32.61% win rate to reach 2nd place, barely nudging out the latter. However, he is still far away from Armada’s dominant 39.62% win percentage, a feat that is likely to take a long time to reach, if ever.

     Now that we’ve dealt with tournament placings on the year, let’s look at another significant metric: their end of year standing and longevity. I like to go down to Top 25 for these as a good direct comparison to other years, where there was less data to fully know who was where so far down in the ranking, so here’s the MPGR 2018 Top 25!

1.Hungrybox

2.Armada

3.Leffen

4.Plup

5.Mango

6.Mew2King

7.Zain

8.Wizzrobe

9.aMSa

10.Axe

11.S2J

12.SFAT

13.Swedish Delight

14.Duck

15.PewPewU

16.n0ne

17.Crush

18.Lucky

19.Bananas

20.ARMY

21.lloD

22.Westballz

23.HugS

24.AbsentPage

25.KJH

     Some new faces have appeared in the Top 25 for this year, those being KJH, AbsentPage, lloD, ARMY and Bananas. The first 3 can put down their first years ranked within the Top 25, while the two Ice Climber mains can mark down their first Top 20 year in the game.

     At the top of the pack, this is Mew2King’s 13th year in the Top 10, let alone Top 25, a truly unprecedented feat that nobody has matched. However, an often underrated representative for longevity in the scene is Mango. With 2018, he notched his 11th year within the Top 5, tying Mew2King for the most in this regard, with 12 total years in the Top 10.

     Hungrybox has garnered his 3rd year at #1, though his 2010 is rather dubious due to Mango’s frequent sandbagging at the time, meaning you could reasonably look at it more as 2.5 years or so. This pushes his peak above the likes of Mew2King and puts him squarely in the conversation of players like Ken and Mango, though still solidly behind Armada. It also marks a decade for Hungrybox in the Top 5, tying him with Armada, who also reached this milestone for 3rd most years in this regard.

     For non-gods, Axe reached his 5th year within the Top 10, as well as his 9th year in the Top 15, making him quite easily the longest tenured player to not have reached a Top 5 peak. However, Lucky is not too far behind, with a nearly as impressive 9 years in the Top 20. This surpassed the often vaunted longevity of Shroomed, who faltered this year just outside the Top 25. Other notables include SFAT & S2J, who have reached 8 years in the Top 20, and Westballz, HugS and PPU, who each have notched 7 years in the Top 25. Plup celebrates his 5th year in this Top 25, while Leffen has reached 5 years within just the Top 10, surpassing the likes of PC Chris and now closer to players like Azen and PPMD.

     Now, of course, it’s time to address the elephants in the room. Well, more like the…green dinosaur and handsome blue-haired swordsman in the room? That’s right, the year of 2018 was huge for two players in particular: Zain and aMSa.

     Zain achieved a monumental feat in winning Shine 2018 and becoming the 15th player to win a major in the history of our game. That, plus a 2nd year in the Top 25 and his first within the Top 10, gives Zain a massive standing boost, one that brings him up from the likes of #96 on the original rank, to easily within the Top 25 or even Top 20 of all-time. His legacy is now comparable to players like fellow MDVA legend Chillin, NorCal turned SoCal stronghold SFAT, and Tristate’s forgotten rascal Jman as some of the stronger “non-gods” of all-time.

     Meanwhile, aMSa had his best year yet, with several more Top 8s, 2 Top 4 placements, and a Top 10 end of year ranking. Once thought to be a total gimmick, aMSa has revolutionized Yoshi and proven his staying power in the metagame. His all-time records look similar to that of players like Drephen or DA Wes at this point, solidly within the Top 35 to 45 range on the standing. If his performance at GENESIS 6 is any indicator, though, things only seem to be looking up.

     Other notable players who improved their standing are ones like lloD, who now has his first Top 8 performance ever, and a really strong case for the lower end of the Top 100. Similarly, players like HugS, Wizzrobe, Lucky and S2J are now unquestionably Top 30. PewPewU continues his strong consistent status within the same range as aMSa, while Duck inches closer to the Top 50, though another Top 8 performance could guarantee it for the future.

     Swedish Delight’s historic win on Armada definitely pushes him into the Top 60 range, putting him squarely in competition with Duck for current players. Fiction’s return could see him rise more on the list, perhaps into the Top 70 or further with his impressive Fox. Crush’s departure from the scene is saddening, but his mark on New England Melee should still move himself further through the lower-end of the list, while Canadian’s best of today in n0ne and Ryan Ford continue to strive upwards towards the Top 60. Finally, a personal favorite of mine, Gahtzu, proved himself with an impressive run to 5th at Shine 2018. His consistent performances through the year in addition to his long time within the Top 40 could land him within the lower-end of Top 100 at this point in time.

     In conclusion, I will end this article with my current all-time Top 50. Now, keep in mind this is not official and purely my opinion. As you might be able to tell, it is a bit different than the official list, even in some unchanging spots. Though I do think I’m probably one of the most qualified to make a list like this, that doesn’t mean this is the “correct” Top 50 of all-time. Without further ado, here it is!

  1. Armada
  2. Mango
  3. Hungrybox
  4. Ken
  5. Mew2King
  6. PPMD
  7. Leffen
  8. Azen
  9. ChuDat
  10. PC Chris
  11. Plup
  12. Isai
  13. KoreanDJ
  14. CaptainJack
  15. Axe
  16. Wobbles
  17. Shroomed
  18. Jman
  19. SFAT
  20. Chillin
  21. Zain
  22. Westballz
  23. Hax$
  24. Wizzrobe
  25. KirbyKaze
  26. Fly Amanita
  27. S2J
  28. Lucky
  29. HugS
  30. Amsah
  31. Sastopher
  32. Zhu
  33. Cort
  34. PewPewU
  35. DaShizWiz
  36. Darkrain
  37. Vidjogamer
  38. aMSa
  39. Drephen
  40. DA Wes
  41. Taj
  42. Silent Wolf
  43. NEO
  44. Kage
  45. Lovage
  46. SilentSpectre
  47. Javi
  48. Masashi
  49. Bombsoldier
  50. Duck

     I know this article was a bit long, but I hope you all enjoy what I had to say on the structure of Melee’s all-time standing. Hope you all enjoyed it; who knows what next year will bring?

Melee’s Greatest Upsets: Chillin defeats Ken

Because my Lost to History article on APEX 2015 has been taking longer than expected, I thought I should grace you all with a surprise new series looking at the biggest upsets in Melee history! These will be smaller articles, as they mainly will deal with a singular result as opposed to whole tourneys or careers, but I hope it’s enjoyed just as much! Now, on with the article!


 

Back in Melee’s competitive infancy, there wasn’t really much you could call “upsets”, or surprising results. Sure, people had a general idea where some people were in skill level, but for the most part, regions were still separated, and it wasn’t clear cut how good everybody was in comparison to one another nationwide. Heck, even in regions, a top player losing to a lower one wouldn’t be too ridiculous, as Melee’s scene was still just getting started.

However, despite all of that, there was still one certainty by the end of the year 2003: Ken was the best Melee player in the United States. The soon to be King of Smash, SephirothKen as he was known as back in the day was a force to be reckoned with since his debut into the larger scene at the start of the year with Tournament Go 4. After talking as if he was the best in the world, Ken proved it in highstakes money matches against Matt Deezie, Recipherus and Sultan of Samitude, before easily winning over the region’s competition in the tourney proper, only dropping one game in Grand Finals to Recipherus, considered the best in the area after his win at the previous TG. Ken quickly followed these performances up with dominating local performances, such as SoCal Inland Empire, to prove he was the clear best on the West Coast.

Despite a rivalry beginning to brew between other regions, such as the East Coast and their best in Azen, Ken once again proved his dominance with a convincing victory at Tournament Go 5 in the middle of the year, largely considered the first true national, with the best from the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast and the Midwest all coming to play. As Ken continued to dominate locally for months to come, 2003 ended with a crystal clear hierarchy: Ken, and then everybody else.

Image result for chillindude829 packers
Chillindude829, wearing his trademark Green Bay Packers jersey.

That’s not to say there weren’t still doubters. One of the biggest voices against the SoCal Marth was a man by the name of Chillindude829, affectionately known as Chillin. The MDVA Fox brought up how items were in play at TG5, something the East Coast were not used to, with their tournaments being no items, while also being quite unfair. They invited Ken to come to the East Coast to truly prove his worth in a no items affair, at Game Over in early 2004, which would become the largest legitimate tournament of all time when it drew near.

Game Over was a stacked event, with familiar faces from TG5 showing up, as well as several East Coast players such as ChuDat, Mild, JTanic and Chillin himself making their debut on the national stage. Chillin, then a young 14 year old boy, proved ambitious in his tournament hosting endeavor, securing a fairly large venue for the time, in addition to an out of state bonus for the doubles bracket, one of the main reasons Ken came, along with his partner Isai. The two easily won doubles, but singles was an entirely different matter.

Chillin was heavily focused on running the tournament as it occured, with it being a hectic experience for him. Being such an early tournament, it wasn’t incredibly organized, especially with only a couple of teenagers at the helm of the whole thing. Chillin, in addition to having to keep track of the prize pot and the players, also created what many would consider the first true in-depth seeding for an event. Smash, more than any other competitive scene it feels like, seems fixated on their seeding, and Chillin was arguably the start of that, making sure to avoid regional and crew conflicts, as well as setting up each of the top players as far apart as he could. While doing this and progressing through the tournament, Chillin didn’t seem to think too highly of his chances, jokingly stating to NEO that whoever won their set wouldn’t matter, as both would lose to Ken.

Chillin defeated NEO, and the set that would change both his and arguably Melee’s life was about to begin. I strongly recommend reading Chillin’s recollection of the event from his History of a Smasher series on Smashboards. It offers a better look into his mind on the matter than I could ever properly retell.

Chillin had immense practice against what many would say was the 2nd best Marth in the country, Azen, but even he didn’t think there was a shot he could beat Ken. In the set, though, Chillin busted out something that is now commonplace in Fox’s arsenal, and something you’ve almost definitely seen even with a casual eye: up throw into up air as a kill confirm. Perhaps this was due to Ken’s lack of Foxes in his region, with it mainly being Falcos and Sheiks in the California area, but this wasn’t something the king was used to. This technique, along with a falling up air approach with Fox, have often been called “The Chillin” at various points in Melee history, and were vital in his success. Those new ideas, along with overall solid play, allowed Chillin to score the then biggest upset the game had ever seen.

Ken had lost his first set in tournament ever, something Chillin didn’t even realize at the time. Chillin proceeded to pop off, high-fiving the many onlookers while wearing his now iconic Green Bay Packers jersey to boot. Chillin would then go on to defeat ChuDat in Winner’s Quarters, before losing to Azen, and then Ken in the runback for a 5th place finish. Ken would go on to have Melee’s first great loser’s run, defeating the likes of Mild, HellFox, Chillin, DA Dave, Isai and Azen twice to win the tournament and continue his dominance as the best in the nation. However, despite that, there was now a crack in the armor, a blemish on the previously flawless record. A kid who was more concerned with running the biggest tournament of all-time than placing well in bracket had dethroned the best in the world, if only for a brief moment. This result is still one of the most infamous in the game’s history, and truly worth a mention as one of Melee’s Greatest Upsets.